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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Leaked CIA document and the war on Wikileaks

Glenn Greenwald has just published a subtle article about a leaked CIA document and the increasingly aggressive war being waged on Wikileaks, the site that anonymously publishes leaked sensitive governmental, corporate, organizational, and religious documents.

The first part of the article deals with the leaked document, entitled “CIA Red Cell Special Memorandum; Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission. Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough. (PDF)” (and also uploaded to the Internet Archive for the IAdeposit project). This hubristic document announces “Public Apathy Enables Leaders to Ignore Voters” and describes PR strategies for shoring up public support for the continued war in Afghanistan.

But the more interesting and disturbing part of Greenwald’s story concerns Wikileaks. Greenwald interviewed Julian Assange, the Australian citizen who is WikiLeaks’ Editor. The interview shed light on Wikileaks’ work in exposing the secret activities of governments and corporations and also how the US and other governments are targeting Wikileaks as an enemy of the state and trying to destroy the organization — for more see last week’s NY Times article “Pentagon Sees a Threat From Online Muckrakers” and Wikileaks own editorial on the subject.

…In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a secret report — obtained and posted by WikiLeaks — devoted to this website and detailing, in a section entitled “Is it Free Speech or Illegal Speech?”, ways it would seek to destroy the organization. It discusses the possibility that, for some governments, not merely contributing to WikiLeaks, but “even accessing the website itself is a crime,” and outlines its proposal for WikiLeaks’ destruction. Greenwald also points out the proposed law in Iceland which would provide meaningful whistle blower protection to groups like Wikileaks.

As the Pentagon report put it: “the governments of China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe” have all sought to block access to or otherwise impede the operations of WikiLeaks, and the U.S. Government now joins that illustrious list of transparency-loving countries in targeting them.

…The need for independent leaks and whistle-blowing exposures is particularly acute now because, at exactly the same time that investigative journalism has collapsed, public and private efforts to manipulate public opinion have proliferated. This is exemplified by the type of public opinion management campaign detailed by the above-referenced CIA Report, the Pentagon’s TV propaganda program exposed in 2008, and the ways in which private interests covertly pay and control supposedly “independent political commentators” to participate in our public debates and shape public opinion.

I highly recommend reading Greenwald’s article. It’s eye-opening on so many levels.

The war on WikiLeaks and why it matters. Glenn Greenwald. Salon.com. March 27, 2010.

[HT @JeremyScahill!]

CIA Inspector General report on abuse of prisoners

The last paragraph in Thomas Paine’s 1795 essay entitled Dissertations on First Principles of Government said this:

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

On Monday, Attorney General Eric holder released the confidential CIA Inspector General report entitled “Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001 – October 2003). The report is not for the faint of heart, but I hope libraries will add the document to their collections. As Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti said in today’s NY Times (Report Shows Tight C.I.A. Control on Interrogations):

The Central Intelligence Agency’s secret interrogation program operated under strict rules, and the rules were dictated from Washington with the painstaking, eye-glazing detail beloved by any bureaucracy.

Many have written about the report (Michael Sherer, Publius, Dahlia Lithwick to name but a few) but folks should read Glenn Greenwald’s post on the topic:

“What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report”. Glenn Greenwald. Monday Aug. 24, 2009.

As a side note, I’d like to reiterate my twitter comment for those that didn’t see it. PLEASE would all journalists include links and citations for supporting documents on ALL of their pieces?? The Web means that there’s no excuse or need to save space. Don’t make your readers have to search for supporting documents. It’ll make them go away.

Released CIA Report — post-9/11

Less Access to Less Information By and About the U.S. Government

[UPDATE 3/25/10: Thanks to Bernadine Abbott Hoduski for sending me 1997-98 volumes, the complete chronology from 1981 – 98 is now digitized and hosted at the Internet Archive!]

From 1981 until 1998, Anne Heanue and the fine folks at the Washington Office of the American Library Association (ALA) published an amazing series called Less Access to Less Information by and about the U.S. Government, a chronology of efforts to restrict and privatize government information. In 1986, the publication was listed in Project Censored‘s annual review, Top 25 censored stories for 1986.

I recently had a nice email exchange with Emily Sheketoff, Associate Executive Director of ALA and manager of the Washington Office in which I suggested that Less Access to Less Information ought to be online for the world to see, read, share etc. Emily graciously gave me permission to digitize the series. So, with the help of Rick and Megan Prelinger, Robert Miller and others at the Internet Archive, I give you Less Access to Less information by and about the U.S. government in several formats including text, flip book, PDF, and DjVu.

I’m still on the hunt for the last 2 years of the series, but haven’t come across them yet. If anyone’s got them hanging around their bookshelves and would lend them to me, drop me an email (freegovinfo AT gmail DOT com) and I’ll tell you where to send them.

[This is a repost of my original blog post about Less Access. I reposted it to the library so it wouldn’t get lost. JRJ]

DoJ probe on Guantanamo interrogations released

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General has just released its report (PDF) (uploaded to the Internet Archive of course!) on the FBI’s involvement in detainee interrogations in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Reuters reports that the “Bush administration’s top security officials ignored FBI concerns” and that the “FBI, alarmed by interrogation techniques such as the use of snarling dogs and forced nudity, clashed with the Defense Department and CIA over their use. According to McClatchy News, The IG’s report had been delayed in part because the Pentagon slow-rolled its review of the report for classified information.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Bush administration’s top security officials ignored FBI concerns over the abusive treatment of terrorism suspects, which one agent called “borderline torture,” a four-year Justice Department probe found.

The FBI, alarmed by interrogation techniques such as the use of snarling dogs and forced nudity, clashed with the Defense Department and CIA over their use, said the 370-page report released on Tuesday by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Critics say the techniques employed by the CIA and U.S. military in questioning terrorism suspects captured after the September 11 attacks amounted to torture.

FBI agents participated interrogations and still do, but bureau Director Robert Mueller directed agents in 2002 not to participate in coercive questioning, the report said.

[Thanks Crooks and Liars!]

DoD Releases Directive on Information Operations

A 2006 Department of Defense directive on Information Operations (“Information Operations,” Department of Defense Directive O-3600.1, August 14, 2006), which had previously been withheld as “For Official Use Only,” was released last week in response to a FIOA request from Steven Aftergood and the Federation of American Scientists (Thanks Steven!!). This may or may not have something to do with the defense contractors embedded in our mainstream media outlets. Steven raises the question of whether those imbedded contractors violate or implement this policy. Thoughts?

I just uploaded the document to the IA govt documents collection. FYI, I’ve started a new tag — IA deposit — for those documents that are uploaded to the IA. The tag (*every* tag on FGI) has an RSS feed of course, making it easy for library catalogers to keep up to date and get those fugitives cataloged and accessible to your users!

The directive, issued by the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence), assigns baseline responsibilities for the conduct of information operations, an umbrella term that includes electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security.

Among related capabilities, the directive cites “public affairs,” the purpose of which is “to communicate military objectives, counter misinformation and disinformation, deter adversary actions, and maintain the trust and confidence of the U.S. population, as well as our friends and allies. Effective military operations shall be based on credibility and shall not focus on directing or manipulating U.S. public actions or opinion.”

[Thanks Secrecy News!]